Intervention in the plenary session on the “Continued repression of civil society and human rights defenders in Russia: the case of the human rights organisation Memorial”

Madam President, my dear colleagues, this movement that Mr Putin wants to muzzle was the first ray of sunshine of the perestroika. I will never forget the first meetings organised by Memorial with former Gulag prisoners who were reunited, who looked at each other, whose tears began to flow and who said in a weak voice: “It’s you, it’s really you”. Yes, they were the survivors.

So why does Mr Putin want to silence this movement that had been the very symbol of a return to freedom in Russia? Well, simply to rehabilitate Stalin. And why does he want to rehabilitate Stalin? Simply because this man, who presented himself to the world and to the Russians 20 years ago as the heir to Peter the Great, is becoming the heir to Ivan the Terrible.

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